13 May 2011
The Chief of the Air Staff announced today that a new Reaper Squadron will form at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, which will mean the aircraft over Afghanistan will be controlled from the UK for the first time.
Speaking at the disbandment of Number XIII Tornado Squadron at RAF Marham, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton announced that the Squadron number will transfer to a second Reaper Squadron next year. The remotely piloted aircraft will continue to be based in Afghanistan.
With its array of high tech sensors and precision guided weapons, Reaper can carry out a wide range of missions that are currently controlled by 39 Squadron crews on the other side of the world at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Reaper can use its sensors day and night to spy on insurgent activity for hours at a time and at a range where they are undetectable from the ground.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, said:
“The Royal Air Force is today delivering air power operations in Afghanistan, Libya and the Falkland Islands and, as XIII Squadron’s Tornados have shown, making a fantastic contribution to the very positive progress in the military campaigns in all these locations. I am confident that XIII Squadron’s reputation and distinguished history will be carried forward as it transitions to be a part of our Remotely Piloted Force employing the Reaper over Afghanistan.
“This transition will see us bring Reaper mission control to the UK, make more efficient and effective use of our resources in exploiting this growing capability and enable the operation of significantly more Combat Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance aircraft over Afghanistan 24 hours a day.”
Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said:
“Reaper aircraft are providing valuable support to our front-line troops in Afghanistan. We are committed to providing the best available equipment to our Armed Forces. The formation of this new Squadron follows our doubling of the Reaper capability to ten aircraft, which represents an increased investment of £135M. This extra Squadron will help us get the best out of this valuable armed reconnaissance aircraft.”
XIII Squadron was formed in 1915 and has continued its long and distinguished record through both world wars and Operations over Iraq and Afghanistan. Notably, in 2009 XIII Squadron conducted the last Tornado sortie over Iraq in support of Operation TELIC. In the summer of 2010, XIII Squadron deployed on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan providing Close Air Support and Combat Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance during a very busy fighting season. Finally, just a few weeks from disbandment, XIII Squadron were at the very fore of Operations over Libya, delivering deep strike with the RAF’s Stormshadow missile.
Notes to Editors:
1. For images of Reaper in action on the Afghanistan frontline please visit:
a. User name: GuestUser
2. The last Government announced in December 2009 that moving forward the RAF would need to reduce the number of Tornado or Harrier squadrons, but left the detail of the reductions to the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The disbandment of Numbers XII and 14 Squadrons was announced on the 1 March 2011 and the Squadrons will be formally stood down on the 1 Jun 2011. This will leave 5 operational Tornado Squadrons; II(AC), IX(B), and 31 Squadrons at RAF Marham, and 12(B) and 617 Squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth. Tornado training is carried out on the Operational Conversion Unit, XV(R) Squadron.
3. On 7th December 2010 the Prime Minister announced that £135M had been approved to double the Reaper capability supporting UK and coalition forces in Afghanistan. This investment is set to dramatically increase the armed ISR coverage provided by Reaper from 36 to 72 hours persistent coverage every day. To deliver this enhancement and sustain the capability to 2015 requires amongst other things the acquisition of 5 additional REAPER aircraft and 4 REAPER Ground Control Stations from the US Government.
4. For further information please contact Squadron Leader Bruno Wood in the MOD press office on 0207 218 1534.